If I Take a Semester Off, Will I Lose My Pell Grant?

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Taking a semester off from college provides you with a chance to take a break, pursue other goals or attend to family or personal issues. Financially, it has a few implications. You do not owe tuition, but you will also not receive any financial aid, including Pell Grants, that you would have if you were enrolled.


Semester Off

When you take a semester off, you do not receive any of the financial aid that was allocated for the semester. This is because financial aid is solely to pay the cost of education, which includes not only your tuition, but also your room, board, college-mandated fees, books and other educational expenses. If you are not getting any education this semester, you have no eligible educational expenses. Therefore, the government will not send Pell Grant money for you that semester.


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Remainder of Year

Taking a semester off does not affect your Pell Grants for the rest of the school year. Like always, your Pell Grant award next semester will only be based on how many credits you are taking that semester. Therefore, if you are enrolled full-time next semester, you will get half of the annual Pell Grant award that you were eligible for. If you are enrolled less than full-time, your award will be pro-rated, based on the number of credits you are taking.


Financial Aid Office

When you decide you are going to take a semester off, notify the financial aid office immediately. The administrators will then stop or return any financial aid they received for that semester, including your Pell Grant. If you have already begun the semester, discuss the financial implications of withdrawing before you do so. If you have already received Pell Grant money for the semester, you will need to return it if you are not actually going to take the classes.



Some students count on financial aid, including Pell Grants, to pay housing and food while they are in school. If you take a semester off, you will be on your own with regard to basic living expenses. You can either move back home, get your parents to pay for your living expenses or get a job. Your school will probably not let you live in an on-campus dormitory if you are not enrolled that semester.